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Teacher Tips and Answers

Understanding Controlling Sentences

As you read, watch for two types of controlling sentences.

A thesis statement tells what an essay or article is about. It usually appears in the first paragraph, often at the end.

       Why did writing get invented? To recount the exploits of great heroes like Gilgamesh and Odysseus? No, those epics are only 3,000 to 4,000 years old. To inscribe the laws of the land, as in the Code of Hammurabi? That's another good guess, but it wasn't the first reason. Writing began 5,000 years ago because of goats.

A topic sentence tells what a paragraph is about. It usually appears at the start of a middle paragraph.

       That practical business tool transformed human civilization. It marked the shift from prehistoric times (before written records) to modern times. Writing has come a long way since the days of clay tablets. Now we have emails, Facebook statuses, tweets, and texts, not to mention stock exchange tickers that robots can read faster than we can. . . .

Find controlling sentences.

In the following speech by Eleanor Roosevelt, underline each controlling sentence. Make a copy of this Google doc or download a Word template.

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